Cat Mummy


About this object

X-rays show that this object contains the body of a kitten that is much smaller than the outer wrappings suggest. Like most cats bred in ancient Egyptian temples it was sacrificed before reaching 12 months old. Mummified cats were given as gifts to goddesses who were associated with cats and lions, such as Bastet. Pakhet and Sekhmet. Bastet could appear in the form of a cat or as a cat-headed woman. People attending festivals to celebrate the cult of the goddess gave mummified cats or bronze statues of cats to the priests as offerings for the goddess.

The mummy has a cylindrical shape with a naturalistic cat’s head. The arrangement of the bandages, in geometrical patterns using interlaced dyed strips of material, follows a style which is common in the Ptolemaic and Romano-Egyptian periods and it allows us to date the cat to about the 1st century AD. The mummy was X-rayed and CT imaged at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital on 9th April 2015 as part of the University of Manchester’s Animal Bio Bank Project. Radiographs revealed "a highly compressed cat inside, however the cat is much smaller than the bundle itself and is placed in the centre of the bundle. Epiphyses are visible on the long bones indicating that the cat was immature at the time of death. Radiodense patches are visible through the layer of linen which are likely to be resin applied as an adhesive during the wrapping process” (extract from the report written by L. McKnight and S. Woolham, 2015).

Object specifics

  • Type
    Animal Remains
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Africa: Northern Africa: Egypt
  • Date made
    30 BC - 100 AD
  • Materials
    Animal; Textile
  • Location
    World Museum, Level 3, Ancient Egypt Gallery
  • Acquisition
    Gift of the Royal Institution, Liverpool
  • Collector
    Liverpool Royal Institution
  • Place collected
    Africa: Northern Africa: Egypt
  • Date collected
    1894 before
  • Measurements
    120 mm x 140 mm x 450 mm
  • Related people
    Liverpool Royal Institution ( Collector, previous owner)


Previous owners

Object view = Humanities
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